A loooooong long time ago, I was a spotty 13 year old listening to Belinda Carlisle on my Sony Walkman!! On tape!! Now these days, a lot of people only know what a tape cassette is if they have a) used one or b) have watched 13 Reasons Why (which, incidentally, is a MUST see for for all things mental health). Amongst her amazing back catalogue is a song that I love and, when you read the next lot of words, will probably be going around your head for the rest of your waking hours today……..
‘We dream the same dreams, We want the same things’
Now, this song is about finding the love of your life, in relationship terms. Sometimes this goes well, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, what everyone else dreams of is actually not what we as individuals either want or need. We see these pin up people on posters (there’s that 80s kid in me again!) or more commonly these days on Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat etc and we think, ‘yes, I want (need) to be that, and if I’m not that then I’m a failure/unsuccessful/ unpopular!’ And we then spend a lot of time and energy trying to get those likes, that look, those business leads, pursuing that same dream everyone else reading that particular thread also has.
But what happens when the dream we’re following is not, fundamentally, our dream? Well, for me, I get sick. I become tired, demotivated and stressed, and I indulge in a nice unhealthy dollop of negative self talk with a side order of limiting beliefs. And largely, that’s not me. I know from 43 years of knowing myself that I am VERY good at getting what I want….but I’m VERY bad at getting what I only think I want. In other words, I am very bad at achieiving if essentially, deep inside, I don’t actually want it. If my heart is not in it then I don’t achieve. This seems so blindingly obvious but it’s repeatedly a core reason why many people don’t get what they think they want, and it causes stress, anxiety and illness. But we’re not always aware that this is what is happening, so we blame ourselves for being rubbish.
A few years ago now, I became a new mum on the playground when my big one started school; he settled in well, and so did I. Then a few years after that, my little one started at the same school, along with a new group of mums. The next year became one of the toughest I’ve ever experienced socially. A group of mums became friends and knowing a few of them, I ‘joined the group’. They were, from my observations, the biggest and most popular group of mums and I wanted a bit of that. Or so I thought. I tried to share their dreams of partaking in various social and playground activities, sharing the same jokes and wanting them all to like me. After a while however, it became clear to me that I didn’t actually enjoy those activities all that much, or like some of the other ‘members’ of the group, but I still tried to be part of the popular group, trying to insert myself in to their attention and activities. It was what I thought my mum-on-the-playground dreams were made of, and it was what I wanted. But, as I said, I’m very bad at getting what I don’t want; I spend a lot of time and energy chasing a dream that isn’t actually my dream and, because of that, I become stressed, anxious and unhappy, which leads to me becoming demotivated and unsuccessful in achieving that dream, and thus a vicious circle ensues.
So, you may ask, ‘why don’t you just stop chasing that dream?’ Good question! And the answer is because I didn’t know at the time that it wasn’t my dream that I was chasing. It took a very stressful and unhappy week of trying to be accepted but constantly being rebutted to realise that my efforts to join the group were not successful because I didn’t fundamentally want it, so I wasn’t being genuine, so I wasn’t being accepted. I then woke up one morning and decided enough was enough and I stopped, that very day, trying to achieve the dream that wasn’t mine. And you know what? It was THE best thing that could have happened to me. The stress and anxiety literally disappeared overnight and even better, over time, my new found playground freedom actually opened up new and far more fruitful friendships for me and, two years later, I’m relaxed and happy in that playground.
So, what has this all to do with Life and Well-being Coaching, or running a business you might ask? Well, firstly, a lot of my clients come to me chasing dreams but being unsuccessful in achieving them. When we unpick it all it turns out that often, it’s not their dream, so they aren’t motivated in the right ways to achieve it. And secondly, I’ve discovered over the last few months (but only realised recently) that once again I’ve been chasing a (business) dream that isn’t actually mine….and unsurprisingly therefore I’ve been failing to achieve it.
When I started up my running business, SlimFit5k, I knew that I wanted my running groups to be small and friendly along with knowing the type of programme I wanted to use to teach people to run. From the off my heart has been totally in it, I’ve been motivated and focused to achieve my plan and it’s been successful. I’ve ignored the things that won’t help me achieve the kind of running group and course I want to deliver, and I’ve concentrated on the areas that will help me achieve it. I’ve only posted on Facebook and Instagram the things that make sense for my dreams for SlimFit5k and my members, and I’ve ignored the rest. And it’s worked. I have people wanting to join and stay in my small and friendly groups, and I even had my first groupie recognise me and my running group in town the other evening, even though it took me ages to realise their shouts and excitement were aimed at me!!
And then I started up Acorn Academy Coaching. On the back of some advice of another (highly successful) coach, I joined all the online networking and marketing sites and pages I could find. And I started to read, almost hourly, a plethora of advice about how to do sales and marketing ‘right’, how to get lots of followers and likes, how to convert them in to clients, and how to become a world famous Life Coach earning a 6-7 figure income. And again, I wanted a bit of that, or so I thought. So I started posting daily, sometimes more, waking up in the morning and reaching for my device to log in to Canva, and then in to Instagram, and then in to Facebook and so on. I would spend time thinking of deep and meaningful quotes and trending hashtags. And then I spent the hours that followed watching for those little red and blue notifications telling me I was popular and successful in my endeavours. Only to be largely disappointed in my meagre gatherings. And then all the blogs, marketing emails and posts telling me how I was doing it wrong started to take up my thinking space and impacting on my confidence. I started to believe that the reason why I wasn’t getting what I thought I wanted was because I was rubbish at it, and then that I was just rubbish, full stop.
But you know what? I’m not rubbish at getting what I want, and I’m not rubbish, full stop. I launched 3 months ago, and in the last 6 weeks I’ve very successfully achieved two exciting Coaching contracts, I’ve delivered two training sessions that got amazing feedback, I’ve got two public speaking commitments coming up, and two meetings tomorrow. And I’m excited by these because I want them, because my heart is in that type of Coaching work. And, because my heart is in it, I’ve been successful in securing it. One feeds the other. I’ve realised that the kind of results I was chasing through building up my online presence is not actually the kind of work I want. And I know that the kind of work I want (and I’m securing) is not going to be achieved through that kind of online presence and activity.
In response to this realisation, I woke up a few days ago and I wrote down what I want, what I’ve got that works, and what is not helping me achieve what I want. As a result of this mind-mapping, I came off of quite a few networking pages and groups, choosing to remain in the ones that I really enjoy and get something out of. I’ve stopped posting noon and night, and I’ve started this Acorns to Oaks blog. And it’s all been completely freeing! The anxiety, feeling of failure, stress, tiredness and headaches have disappeared, pretty much instantly, and the following days have seen me happy, fulfilled and enjoying doing the work that I want to do, excited about how I’m going to ensure I continue doing that work, and relaxed (but not in any way less focused) in my means of achieving it all. My dreams are still living, but this time they are truly and 100% MY dreams. It is absolutely okay, and necessary, to not want the same dreams as everyone else, especially if in pursuing them you are becoming ill. Having 3k followers and 2k post likes does not make you successful, and not having them doesn’t make you unsuccessful. Life is way too short to be living someone else’s dreams, especially if you then don’t succeed. THE only way to live your best life is to make YOUR goals the result of YOUR dreams. Be you, everyone else is taken!